Less than three weeks remain to comment on library plans

3 March 2015

Residents have less than three weeks remaining to comment on a new way of delivering library services in Peterborough which will see all ten libraries stay open for longer using self-service technology.

The new model has been developed by Peterborough City Council and Vivacity using feedback received during a first round of consultation in the summer of 2014 which was held to understand which libraries people use, when they use them, how often and what they use them for.

The new system will use Open+ self-service technology, currently used in libraries in Leeds and London, which will enable people to access libraries for 383 hours per week as opposed to the current 261. Staffed hours would be reduced from the current 261 to 149.

Originally the new model would have saved £350,000 in a full year. However, at the Cabinet meeting on 23 February 2015 councillors agreed to recommend to Council that £45,000 is put back into the libraries budget, reducing the saving to £305,000.

This additional investment will be used to provide a receptionist during Open+ hours for the two libraries co-located with schools, Werrington and Orton, to support a full range of community and school activities.

A receptionist post will also be created at Bretton library which will allow all three floors to remain open during Open+ hours and enable vital services such as the talking newspaper to extend its hours.

A fourth post will be created at Central library to meet increasing demand as this is the largest and busiest building across the library network.

Councillor Lucia Serluca, cabinet member for city centre management, culture and tourism, said:  "We have spent a great deal of time in the past few weeks speaking to people about our plans. We have visited all ten libraries now to meet with members of the public and talk with library staff and we have listened to what they have told us. This is why we have recommended putting money back into the libraries budget to provide additional staffed support at some libraries. We want to provide a flexible library service that responds to local need rather than a one size fits all model. 

"We believe that our plan for the city's libraries will better meet people's needs with the money that we have available. However, we need to understand people's views on our proposal before Cabinet can make a decision on 20 March. If you've not read the proposals and had your say, then please do."

Under the new model, individual libraries would be open for a set number of staffed and self-service hours each week.

Open+ technology can automatically control and monitor building access, self-service kiosks, public access computers, lighting, alarms, public announcements and customer safety.

There will be a one-off cost of £170,000 to introduce the technology at all ten libraries, with an ongoing cost of £10,000 per annum.

The library service currently costs £1.52million to deliver. It is managed by Peterborough’s culture and leisure trust, Vivacity.

People can read the library proposal and complete an online survey on the council's website. Hard copies of the document and survey are also available in all libraries and on the receptions of the Town Hall and Bayard Place.

The deadline for people to make comments is midday on Friday 20 March 2015.

Cabinet will then consider the feedback to the consultation at a meeting on the afternoon of Friday 20 March 2015.

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